Those benefits might be due to the placebo effect, says Scott Shannon, M.D., the study’s main author and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado-Children’s Hospital in Denver. But Shannon, who is also founder of the Wholeness Center, an integrative medicine clinic in Ft. Collins, Colo., also thinks that some people may have slept better because they "worried less about their sleep issue."
In a recent nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, about 10 percent of Americans who reported trying CBD said they used it to help them sleep, and a majority of those people said it worked.
Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and on the advisory board the marijuana advocacy group NORML, suggests starting with a modest dose of 30 mg and slowly working up if that doesn’t work. And he cautions that a dose of 160 mg “is going to be incredibly expensive.”
How CBD Might Help With Sleep
Higher doses could work better. There’s not much research on dosing, but what there is suggests low doses might not be very effective. A 2004 study found that low doses (15 mg in this case) didn’t help people fall asleep and might actually have made people more wakeful. And an even earlier study found that a relatively large dose—160 mg—worked better than a lower one. In Shannon’s study, patients were given a 25 mg dose.
And how it affects people does seem to be hit or miss. For example, Melissa Giovanni, age 32, a licensed dietitian in Nashville, Tenn., takes CBD regularly for sleep and says it often helps. But Liz Fuller, age 47, a makeup artist in Boston, says she tried two different CBD brands—spending about $135—to treat her insomnia, and neither worked.
For those looking to try CBD to see whether it helps improve sleep, here’s what you need to know.
And Joseph Maroon, M.D., a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who has researched the effect of cannabis on the brain, says that CBD has properties that could help some people sleep better. Most notably, he says, it appears to ease anxiety and pain, both of which can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
But reaping the rewards of CBD is a slippery slope since much of its long term safety or efficacy is still unknown. One study showed taking less than 160 mg of CBD oil may actually promote wakefulness . While higher doses can promote sleep, the FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Because other CBD products aren’t regulated, you might not know what you’re really getting.
Like Podcasts? Add the Michigan Medicine News Break to your Alexa-enabled device or subscribe for daily updates on iTunes , Google Play and Stitcher .
Setting yourself up for sleep
However, many of these studies suggest there could be some benefit to using CBD as a sleep aid, and it’s worth researching. “For example, there’s evidence that CBD can be helpful in managing anxiety . If someone’s anxiety is creating their sleeping problem, a CBD product may benefit them,” Conroy says.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil seems to be all over the place, used as treatment for anxiety, chronic pain, acne and even infused in some foods and drinks. It’s readily available in various doses and forms over-the-counter. It’s natural to wonder what this mystical compound of marijuana is and what it does in the body.
You might be thinking, “Wait, marijuana? Doesn’t that make you high?” But let’s set the record straight: unlike CBD’s counterpart delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it doesn’t alter your cognitive state.
While not a sleep disorder itself, anxiety can contribute to poor quality sleep, insufficient sleep, and sleep disorders. Because CBD calms the nervous system, early research indicates that CBD can be used to treat anxiety-related disorders. One study showed that nearly 80% of participants who used CBD to treat their anxiety reported lower anxiety levels within a month. Sleep initially improved in more than 65% percent of participants, followed by fluctuating results.
CBD, the other commonly known cannabinoid, can be legally sold in the U.S. when extracted from hemp and marketed according to relevant regulations. CBD does not have psychoactive properties and does not bring about the same effects as THC. Also, CBD does not have effects that would lead to potential dependency or risk of abuse.
Studies of short-term CBD use show that patients do not experience withdrawal.
Anxiety and CBD
While CBD at higher doses does not appear to have serious negative consequences, these products may also contain higher levels of THC than reported on the label. Other CBD products may contain THC that is not reported on the label at all. The THC in these products can produce intoxicating effects, which may or may not be desired.
There are several common forms of CBD:
So far, CBD’s effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy is well-supported by research. Other early research suggests that CBD may also help treat schizophrenia and substance use disorders.
While there are many different slang terms for the green, narrow-leafed plant you may recognize, the plant is scientifically called Cannabis sativa. The word “cannabis” can be used to describe any products made from the plant. Cannabis plants contain multiple chemical compounds, including a group referred to as “cannabinoids.” Out of more than 100 cannabinoids, researchers have primarily studied two that appear to have the greatest impact on humans: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.